25 October 2014

AUS: Exercise KOWARI breaking new ground

Exercise KOWARI, the first land-based trilateral military exercise between Australia, China and the United States, concluded today marking an important milestone in defence cooperation between the three countries.

Based out of Larrakeyah Barracks in Darwin, the exercise began on 7 October and involved 10 participants from each country.

The exercise included field training and survival tests in remote inland and coastal areas designed to provide participants with an understanding of the basic principles, procedures, techniques and equipment that can enhance survival prospects in a harsh Australian environment.

Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston said Exercise KOWARI provided a template for regional defence cooperation into the future.

USA: Antietam Enhances Interoperability with Philippines, Japan

USS Antietam (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn, USS Antietam Public Affairs

USS ANTIETAM, At Sea (NNS) -- Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) participated in a training evolution with Philippine navy frigate Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Sazanami (DD 113) Oct. 22.

During the evolution, the ships conducted several drills in live-fire gunnery, communications, and close-in maneuvering.

"It was a very professional, well executed event," said Cmdr. Steven Liberty, Antietam's executive officer. "These types of evolutions help strengthen our ties with our regional partners, and help ensure that we have the ability to work together in the future to ensure peace and stability in the region."

The events were challenging at times due to the coordination needed for three navies, who are all used to operating in a different way.

USA: Military Leaders Speak on Guam's Importance in Rebalance to Pacific

By Leah Eclavea, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs Office

TUMON, Guam (NNS) -- Military leaders spoke about the rebalance to the Pacific during the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Guam in Tumon, Oct. 23.

About 120 international businessmen and women met during the conference to discuss Guam's economy and what factors affect the future investment climate. 

Paul Vosti, senior advisor, Guam policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, addressed how Guam meets the needs for projecting American military presence in the region. He stated that the military structure in Asia needs to be geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable.

USA: Security Decisions Should Continue to Deter North Korea, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2014 – Decisions made at the security and military talks between the United States and South Korea should continue to deter North Korea, Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti said today.

Scaparrotti, the Combined Forces Command chief in Seoul, also told Pentagon reporters that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is in control of the rogue state.

Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Republic of Korea treaty, and the mission remains the same as it was in 1953 -- to deter aggression, and if deterrence fails, defend South Korea. “We deter North Korean aggression by ensuring our forces are ready to fight tonight,” Scaparrotti said. “Therefore, our focus is on readiness and sustaining and strengthening the alliance.”

News Report: US Scales Back 'Cobra Gold' War Games in Thailand

The United States has confirmed it is scaling back a major annual defense exercise in Thailand, where Washington has criticized a coup by the country's military.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok told VOA on Friday the so-called Cobra Gold 2015 exercise set for February will be "refocused and scaled down."

The statement said "in light of the current political situation, the U.S. government has increased its focus on non-lethal activities, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."

Thai officials have recently denied that the war games would be affected by the May coup, the military's 12th takeover in 80 years, which has caused a minor rift in U.S.-Thai relations.

News Story: US General - Kim Was Never Out of Power in North Korea

Kim Jong Un (File Photo)


WASHINGTON — North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s recent 40-day disappearance from public view sparked speculation of a coup or serious illness, but US military officials were never convinced he was out of power, the commander of US forces in South Korea told reporters today.

“We didn’t see any discernible change that led us to believe there was an instability while he was gone,” said Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of US Forces Korea at a Pentagon press conference. “What we can understand looked like very normal functioning of their government.”

Kim reemerged Oct. 14, walking with a cane at a public appearance. US officials are unsure what the health issue is, but Scaparrotti said Kim is clearly in control of the country, touring construction sites and keeping a schedule as brisk as it had been before Kim vanished.

The remarks came as the US and South Korea announced this week that they would delay transferring wartime operational control of allied forces by taking on a “conditions-based” approach and scrapping the previously set deadline of 2015. The new target is 2025.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: New Zealand Defence Force Grows


WELLINGTON — Uniformed members of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) have grown to 9,035 sailors, soldiers and airmen and women, up from 8,504 in June 2013, according to an NZDF annual report. The Defence Force currently has 14,116 military and civilian staff, its highest staffing levels since 2011.

Attrition is toppling, particularly in the Navy, where attrition has fallen from almost 16 percent in June 2013 to less than 8 percent today. This is the lowest attrition rate in the Navy’s modern history, according to the report.

Nevertheless, a continuing shortage of experienced personnel in key areas meant the Navy’s two offshore patrol vessels were prioritized over the four inshore patrol vessels in terms of crewing.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Kerry - Return to Six Party Talks Possible 'in the Next Weeks, Months'

By Shannon Tiezzi

Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S.still wants concrete commitments from Pyongyang before talks resume.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry indicated on Wednesday that the U.S. was hoping for a resumption of the long-stalled Six Party Talks. The talks, which brought together representatives from China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and the U.S., began in 2003 with the aim of negotiating an end to North Korea’s nuclear program. Talks were formally discontinued in 2009.
Kerry made the remarks during a joint press conference with the German foreign minister. Kerry was asked about the recent release of U.S. citizen Jeffrey Fowle, who had been held in North Korea for five months. That question led to a broader discussion of the North Korea issue. “We hope to get back to talks,” Kerry said, noting that the U.S. has “raised this issue with the Chinese, with the Russians, with others.” After this active diplomacy, Kerry held out hope that the talks might resume after a five-year hiatus. “We hope,” Kerry said, “that the dynamics can develop in the next weeks, months perhaps, where we could get back to talks. And the United States is absolutely prepared to do that.”
With regards to China in particular, Kerry said that the North Korean issue took up a lot of time during his recent talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. “We had long talks about North Korea, the commitment of China and the rest of the …  five parties to the denuclearization of the peninsula and the denuclearization of the regime,” Kerry said. Kerry also lauded China for “additional measures” taken in the last year “to try to send a very clear message to the North Koreans that [the continued development of a nuclear program] is unacceptable to the Chinese.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: X-Band and THAAD as Good as Anti-China Trilateral Defense Agreement?

X-Band radar (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Clint Richards

The U.S. transfer of high-end hardware seeks to put China in an ever-shrinking security box.

Over the past week China has criticized the U.S. for deploying new missile defense radar and for considering the deployment of advanced missile defense systems in Northeast Asia. While both of these deployments can ostensibly be considered necessary in light of continued ballistic missile testing and the threat of yet another nuclear test from North Korea, their applicability toward Beijing is obvious. While China can do little to directly prevent their deployment, the moves highlight China’s growing military presence in the East China Sea, and the increasing friction encountered by U.S. and Japanese forces in the region.
China reacted last week for the first time to Washington’s proposed deployment of its Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles to South Korea. The chief envoy to the six-party talks for China, Xu Bu, said the U.S. attempts to “strengthen its military presence in Northeast Asia… would spark strong dissatisfaction from North Korea,” and that “nothing can be resolved unless we do negotiations,” according to Yonhap News.
There is still some question as to whether Seoul will agree to the deployment. On Thursday, the two allies decided to indefinitely postpone the transfer of wartime operations to South Korea. Some experts believe that the U.S. will use the delay as leverage to force Seoul to forgo the development of its own indigenous Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) in favor of the THAAD system. However, China has told South Korea that joining the U.S. missile defense system would cross a “red line” in their bilateral relationship. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

24 October 2014

AUS: Exercise Bersama Lima concludes

Exercise Bersama Lima 2014 (BL14) concluded on 22 October with Australian Defence Force personnel joining Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) partners at a closing ceremony at Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

The FPDA is the longest-standing multilateral arrangement in South East Asia and has maintained relevance in the contemporary security environment.

Bersama Lima is one of the most significant exercises within the FPDA series of activities.

Exercise Director for BL14 Rear Admiral Timothy Lo from the Singapore Armed Forces, said all the exercise objectives for BL14 were achieved.

Commander of the Australian Contingent Group Captain Dennis Tan said the FPDA nations’ collective success this year demonstrated that Bersama Lima continues to grow and strengthen as an important strategic engagement in this region.